The Cheltenham Gold Cup dream is still alive for Andy Edwards, despite L’Homme Presse being outclassed by a superb performance from the on-song Pic D’Orhy in the Betfair Ascot Chase.

Edwards described taking on the likes of Pic D’Orhy and Ahoy Senor in the Ascot Grade One as a privilege prior to the race and saw positives aplenty despite defeat in Berkshire.

Connections missed out on their chance to compete in the Blue Riband last season when injury struck Venetia Williams’ stable star.

However, despite being eased in the Gold Cup betting following his Ascot reverse, L’Homme Presse’s sights are firmly locked on a return to Prestbury Park and a course that has been the scene of some of the nine-year-old’s best performances.

Edwards said: “He’s got the same chance that he had yesterday as he has now, he’s the horse that he is.

“It was a bit short for him that race, the ground has dried out, but no excuses, the winner has won well and we’re very happy.

“He’s ran through the line and was doing his best work at the end. The extra five furlongs [in the Cheltenham Gold Cup] is his ideal trip and it was always going to be tough when there was no rain last night.”

L’Homme Presse had made a scintillating return from injury in the Fleur De Lys Chase at Lingfield last month, but found himself off the pace from an early stage as Pic D’Orhy took full advantage of a home fixture at a track he knows well, bouncing out and making every yard.

It was a race ultimately contested on drying good to soft ground and despite a momentary consideration about pulling stumps and heading straight to the Cheltenham Festival, connections took the sporting option to compete and complete their Gold Cup prep as planned.

L'Homme Presse still holds hopes for the Cheltenham Gold Cup
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L’Homme Presse still holds hopes for the Cheltenham Gold Cup

Edwards added: “We did half-think about pulling him out, but he needed the run before the Gold Cup, so we have to be happy. He needed the run to sharpen him up and things today were in Pic D’Orhy’s favour.

“If there were any nerves it was that something could go wrong today. That was great though, he has run through the line and if it was good to soft, soft in places it could have been a different result.”

Edwards has never hesitated in saying last year’s injury setback, which saw L’Homme Presse out of action for over a year, has taught him to appreciate every opportunity to compete on the big stage and despite not heading home victorious on this occasion, there was an unmovable smile from his face.

“It’s a privilege to be in a Grade One and that’s what it is all about and we will enjoy the moment. We’re happy and we can go to Cheltenham smiling.

“We got away with it at Lingfield, we didn’t today, but at the end of the day we have come second in a Grade One at Ascot and I’m happy.”



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